You are on page 1of 10

Running head: Little Hans Case Study

Freudian Psychoanalytical Perspective in the Little Hans Case Study


D. Taylor McGhee
Personality Theories
(504)
July 7, 2014
Dr. D. Griefer

Little Hans Case Study

Freudian Psychoanalytical Perspective in the Little Hans Case Study


Psychoanalytical theories originated with "the father of psychology"
Sigmund Freud (Cervone & Pervin, 2010). Freud a neurologist interested in
the biological functioning of the mind and the causation of mental illness
found his psychological niche through his created specialty of
psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis was formulated by Freud as he clinical
researched his own personal struggles in depression and anxiety through
case study observations (Cervone & Pervin, 2009). Freud ventured into
psychoanalysis of children upon his introduction to Little Hans. Little Hans a
five year old boy and son of Freud's patient was psychoanalyzed and
diagnosed after relating a fear of horses to his parents.
Freud diagnosed Little Hans behavior and dream analysis through
narration provided by his father. Freud described Han's emotional state as
traumatic experiences of personal conflict arising from the psychosexual
stages of infantile sexuality development known as the Oedipus complex.
The Oedipus complex a development stage of psychosexual tendencies
relating to sexual urges found in male patients who experience dream
phobias. Freud believed sexual fantasies occurred, as a result, of a natural
instinct of growth associated with unconscious fears that traumatize children
in early childhood.
As a result of the phobias and sexual fantasies the unusual attraction
for the maternal parent is "alogical" and boys are psychologically fated to kill

Little Hans Case Study

their fathers while cycling through dangerous, irrational thoughts of death for
the paternal parent (Cervone & Pervin, 2010 p. 76).
The case study of Little Hans is theoretical based in the phallic
instinctual stage of development. According to Freud's narrative reports
obtained (Han's father's) of Little Hans, it was revealed that Little Hans at
age three developed a fascination with his widdler (penis) and was
repeatedly counseled by his mother that if he didn't stop masturbating with
his widdler his father would castrate him. Little Hans continued this
fascination well into age five where his fantasies become vividly
aggressively. Han's believed a horse would eventually bite him and the
notion consumed him with progressing thoughts of his widdler and genitals
(mother's) of others. At age 5 Hans witnessed the horrific death of a white
horse carrying a laden filled cart and was frightened by the despair of the
horse and the sound of its clattering hooves as the animal fell to his death
(McLeod, 2008). It was Freud who gathered extensive reports of Little Hans
experiences, phobias, and uncontrollable general anxieties and fantasies that
are focused on horses, large penises and personal attacks. These findings
resulted in Freud's first child analysis where Freud wrote a summary of his
intervention for little Hans' entitled "analysis of a phobia in a five year boy"
(Freud, 1909).
Psychoanalytical Personality Perspectives
According to Sigmund Freud, psychoanalytical theory "emphasizes the
complex organization of personality functioning; it emphasizes the

Little Hans Case Study

importance of the unconscious and defense mechanisms, while emphasizing


a holistic understanding of personalities" (Cervone & Pervin, 2010 p. 114).
Freud argues that the mind "is a scientific model of the overall
architecture of mental structures and process" (Cervone & Pervin, 2010 p.
71). It is through this fundamental theory that Freud states there are three
divisions in the human biological formation that devise personality. They are
structure, process, growth, and development (Cervone & Pervin, 2010).
Little Hans phobia is explained through the growth and development
psychoanalytical theory.
Freud theorizes mental structures of the mind process development
through both conscious, preconscious, and unconscious states of awareness
and repression (Cervone & Pervin, 2010). The unconscious level of Little
Hans dreams are clarified through Freud's dream analysis interpretations.
Freud postulates the unconscious level of dreams is vivid displays of
thoughts that differ dramatically from our conscious state of being (Cervone
& Pervin, 2010). Freud tells us there are two levels of awareness found in
dreams manifest and latent.
The manifest level reveals the storyline and the latent level are filled
with unconscious emotions, drives and ideas that is manifested into the
storyline (Cervine & Pervin, 2010). According to Freud dream levels of life's
unconsciousness "can be utterly bizarre and alogical' (Cervone & Pervin,
2010 p. 76).
Phobia Analysis

Little Hans Case Study

Freud believed Little Han's was filled with generalized anxiety, and the
fear of horses began to symbolize his distraught emotions through the
process of symbolization (Cervone & Pervin, 2010). The theory of
symbolization acts upon the "alogical" and "utterly bizarre" interpretations
found in dream analysis (p.76). Little Hans terrified of the personal threat of
castration for masturbating, and his fear of horses intertwines the symbols of
his father's image with the horse's aggression to harm (biting) as a symbol
that reflects punishment through castration.
Hans' identified the large penis of the horse, blinders and black bits
around the animal's mouth with his father's anatomy. The blinders
representing his father's spectacles and the black bits of color around his
mouth symbolizing the father's moustache. Through Freud's psychoanalysis,
its clear Little Hans phobia of horses is the mental process of development
growth through dream analysis. In the mental stage (phallic) Han's is allowed
emotional escape from the conscious reality of fear he experiences
pervasively in his daily life. The phallic stage attaches incestuous tendencies
that Hans overly attaches to his mother presence and bonding. According to
the Oedipus theory, this measure of secure attachment is used to shield
(Han's) himself from the fathers symbols (horse) positioning his mother as
his armor.
Remarkable Period
Freud reveals it was during the period 1909 to 1920 that Freud began
to receive acclaim for his work. He left Europe for the United States working

Little Hans Case Study

on this theory of personality structuring researching the fundamental roles of


drives in the motivation of human psyches. Freud a scholar of mind theory
establishes his phenomenon of psychoanalytical theory affirming "sexual and
aggressive drives are an inborn part of human nature, and individuals
function according to a gratification principle that promotes instinctual
growth and development (Cervine & Pervin, 2010 p. 73). This phenomenon
led Freud to the theories of defense mechanism a process of learning to deal
with conflict through identifications with the aggressors creating a
transferring of negative mental energy into positive intervention psychofunctioning (McLeod, 2008).
Hans Phobia & Pavlovs Classical Conditioning
Classical Conditioning a learning method of behavior was discovered
by Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov. The experimental methods of Pavlov
(dog, saliva studies) suggested that behavior is influenced by environmental
stimulus that intervene upon a naturally occurring stimuli (Cherry, 2014).
This period in psychological history constructed major influences in the
period known as behaviorism. Pavlov creator of the mental disciplines of
unconditioned responses and the conditioned stimulus can be used to
psychoanalyze the phobia experiences of Little Hans.
Pavlov experimented with conditioning theory in dogs using the
unconditioned response of bell ringing to stimulate salvation responses thus
generating hunger in dogs (Cherry, 2014). The same theory can be applied
to the Hans theory of fear associated phobias. Hans referenced the fear of

Little Hans Case Study

the horse with the act of being harmed (biting) which is an unconditioned
response to the conditioned stimulus which theorist like Freud and Pavlov
confirm validate as the learning process of behavior when analyzing the
phobia's of Han's (Cherry, 2014).
Classical Conditioning a fear response posits when a neutral stimulus
(horse, father) and the fear of the unconditioned stimulus come together
(horse, biting, castration) it can lead to the formation of phobias that have
enduring mental stressors that can cause serious conflict in behavioral
growth (Cherry, 2014).
Hans Phobia & Banduras Observational learning
Albert Bandura developed the social learning theory (1971) in the field
of psychology which theorist say created the bridge between behaviorist and
cognitive theories (Cherry, 2014). Social Learning Theory states" that human
behavior is transmitted, whether deliberately or inadvertently, largely
through exposure to social models" (Bandura, 1971, p.1). According to
(Cervone & Pervin, 2010) it was Bandura who changed the focus of
behaviorist centered on environmental influences to the "thinking process"
that influence personal acts of motivations in reaching your goals (p. 423).
Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1971,1997), Cognitive-Information
Processing Theory (Huesmann, 1986, 1988), and Cultural Spillover Theory
(Straus, 1991) are theoretical models that emphasize early childhood
experiences in shaping future socialization, even maladaptive developmental
pathways such as aggression.

Little Hans Case Study

When we apply the social learning theory against Han's fears, it could
be determined that the constant threats to his person creates the psycho
trauma he experiences in his phobia. The psychosexual urges also increase
his negative associations with family causing fearful intimidation forcing him
to suppress his anxiety and good nature. These emotions were then buried in
his unconsciousness under the defense mechanism to protect his mental
state.
Conclusion
The little Han's case study was the beginning of Freud's theories in
psychoanalysis in children. It was a remarkable time for the field of
psychology as hypothesis and constructs were being developed to promote
social welfare and the advancement of the budding field of psychiatry (Blum,
2007). Pavlov's (classical conditioning) and Bandura's (operational learning)
theory applications were applied to the examination of Little Han's case
study substantiating the clinical linkage between the two learning theories
behaviorism and social cognitive learning (Young-Bruehl, 2007).
The collection of these Psychoanalytical theories opened the clinical
door to the variances in personality structuring (Bruehl, 2007) which has
created a dual methodology of research that broadens the fundamentals of
personality structures into a complex theory of mind structures that are
biologically created, but influenced by socio-environmental causes.
Personality is never easily defined (Cervone & Pervin, 2010) its a unique

Little Hans Case Study

blend of personal abstracts creating mental drives and motives individually


identified in every person.

Reference
Cherry, K. (2014), Introduction to Classical Conditioning. How it works and a
few examples of it in action. Retrieved from
http://www.Psychology.about.com
Bandura, A. (1971). Psychological Modeling. Chicago, III: Aldine & Atherton.
Bandura, A. (1997). Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PrenticeHall.
Blum, H. P., M.D. (2007). Little Hans: A contemporary overview. The
Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 62, 44-60. Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com/docview/218871815?accountid=458
Freud, s. (1909). Analysis of a phobia of a five year old boy. In the Pelican
Freud library (1977), Vol 8, Case Histories 1, pages 169-306
Huesmann, L. (1988). An information processing model for the development
of aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 14, 13-24.
Little-Hans-Freudian Case Study (2014) retrieved from simplepsychology.org
Mcleod, S. A. (2008). Little Hans-Freud (1909). Retrieved from
http://www:simplypsychology.org/little-hans.html.
Straus, M. (1991). Discipline and deviance: Physical punishment of children
and violence and other crime in adulthood. Social Problems, 38, 133-149

Little Hans Case Study


Young-Bruehl, E. (2007). Little Hans in the history of child analysis. The
Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 62, 28-43. Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com/docview/218871879?accountid=458

10